Inside MAQE’s First Venture Workshop – All About Onliness

Photo of a laptop with code to illustrate innovation & onliness at MAQE's first venture workshop.

A lot of companies, who are looking to innovate, do not utilize their greatest resource; their staff.

MAQE wants to change that. It is a vital part of our mission to (literally) change how the world works. 

As part of our implementation of mOS, our organizational operating system inspired by Haier’s Rendanheyi, MAQE announced to all MAQErs that we would start to hold “Venture Workshops”.

We held our first venture workshop on Friday May 13th, a day that’s unlucky for some but not for us! The idea behind the workshop is to talk to MAQErs about ideas they have for new MAQE services. 

But what does that all mean? Let’s take you behind the scenes at the first MAQE Venture Workshop.

Screen shot of the MAQE Venture Workshop Onliness Miro board.

What Is A MAQE Venture Workshop?

The first MAQE Ventures Workshop is a pivotal moment in our company history. MAQE is about to embark on a journey that very few organizations have dared to take.

But it is not easy.

MAQE Ventures is a program that is designed to help MAQErs build a product or service business inside of MAQE, with MAQE’s help. The program is still being worked on in terms of specifics but it is designed, like Haier, to eventually end with the incorporation of a new business that is owned by the MAQEr who built the product or service.

Essentially it is a type of incubator and it is tied into MAQE’s overall plan to become a role-based organization (we call this mOS and you can read a little bit about it in part 2 of our entities series).

The MAQE Venture Workshop is an ideation session designed to help MAQErs think about their idea in business terms. Ideas were submitted by MAQErs to a Miro board before the session and attendees were then split into teams, with each team devoted to one idea. The workshop was conducted remotely via Zoom and we used the breakout rooms feature for each team.

Attendees had to ask themselves if their idea is affordable for MAQE? Does it fit MAQE’s values? Does the idea connect with our purpose of (literally) changing how the world works? 

To answer those questions can be difficult. So the session focused on the onliness statement as a way of helping the attendees think about their idea as a business.

The main objective and output of the session was for each team to generate an Onliness statement.

So…what is an onliness statement?

A picture of paper planes with one going in a different direction to illustrate onliness.

What is the Onliness Statement?

The onliness statement comes from Marty Neumeier’s 2006 book, Zag, which has been named by Time as one of the Top 100 Business Books of all time.

The Onliness Statement is a positioning statement; it is a structured elevator pitch that explains why your business is different from your competitors. It’s made up of a formula that includes the what, how, who, where, why and when of your business idea. Here are the definitions of each part of the formula.

How The Onliness Statement Works

What: The only (category) – Is the business idea a product, a service, a productized service or even a product as a service (PaaS)

How: that (differentiator) – Why should customers care about you? Why and how are you different from competitors? What’s the ONE thing you want people to know about your business idea?

Who: for (customer) – Who is your customer? If you try to be everything to everyone you end up being nothing to no one. You need to be FOR someone! So who is it?

Where: in (market/geography) – Where are your customers located? Where will you find them? The more global you are the larger your addressable market. But the more local you are the more relevant you can be.

Why: who (need state) – What is it that your customers really need? Why are they in the market for your products or services?

When: during (underlying trend) – Why now? What is it that makes your product or services relevant at this point in time? What macro trends are relevant for your business and how will you leverage/exploit them in your business?

Each team in the workshop had to come up with an onliness statement using this formula. The output of the session would look something like this for each team’s idea (using a company like Apple as an example you can see how the statement works):

Apple’s Onliness Statement

  • What: [Apple is] The only technology company
  • How: that makes consumer electronics 
  • Who: for design conscious individuals 
  • Where: all over the world
  • Why: who want to be trendy and creative 
  • When: at a time of personal expression.

At the end of the workshop each team who worked on an idea had to present their onliness statement to the group. With some prizes available to help the MAQErs turn their ideas into reality.

Want to know more about Onliness? MAQE CEO and Co-Founder Andreas Holmer created a deck for our Venture Workshop, feel free to take a look! If you have any questions about Onliness send them to [email protected].

Image of a lightbulb on a board to illustrate ideas.
Photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash

A Sneak Peak At The Topics & Ideas from MAQErs…

We will not go too specific on some of the MAQErs ideas. You will hear more about them when the MAQErs involved all have their own Forbes profiles! But they touched on several areas that fit within MAQE’s stated values and core purpose. 

Several ideas actually converged on the recruitment space and looked at improving how various aspects of recruitment works. So watch this space!

A whiteboard at MAQE's Bangkok office!

What We Learned and What Is Next?

Part of what we learned is something we already knew; MAQErs are an innovative and creative bunch! But the creativity and diversity of ideas on display was thrilling to see.

We also found that people who attended the workshop really responded to the onliness statement. They were able to understand it as a simple framework that helps structure an idea and communicate that idea as a business pitch. It helps people to describe their business ideas in seconds rather than spending precious minutes talking about specifics (and boring whoever they are speaking to).

Plans are in motion for more MAQE Venture Workshops. Stay tuned for more insights and details about mOS and for news on what the next Venture Workshop will tackle.

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Does your business need some help innovating? Do you need to break down silos to become a more agile and aligned organization? Talk to MAQE. We can help you to become a better, more effective business by unlocking the potential of your employees. Get in touch via [email protected].